Hindu votes crucial to win in Muslim dominated Kishanganj

April 29th, 2009 - 5:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Patna, April 29 (IANS) Three bearded Muslim candidates are vying for Hindu votes in Bihar’s Kishanganj constituency where Muslims make up 66.7 percent of the voters.
It is a triangular contest between Rashtriya Janata Dal candidate and sitting MP Mohammad Taslimuddin, Janata Dal-United’s (JD-U) Syed Mahmud Ashraf and Congress nominee Maulana Ishrarul Haque. The Congress is fielding a candidate after a gap of over a decade.

All three candidates are confident of their support base among the Muslim voters and are sure of getting their votes. But the real winner will be the one who can tap the maximum slice of nearly 400,000 Hindu voters in the constituency.

“No doubt Kishanganj is a Muslim-dominated constituency but the party or candidate who receives most Hindus votes will win. That’s because the Muslim votes are split among several candidates in the fray,” Perwez Ahmad, a government official, said.

Kishanganj has 1,163,678 eligible voters.

Supporting Ahmad’s views is Satyanaran Madan, one of the polls managers for Taslimuddin. “Hindus in Kishanganj vote with a minority mindset. Any candidate who will get more Hindus votes will win the election.”

In the past, Muslim leaders have come from nowhere to win elections here - M.J. Akbar (Congress) in 1989 and Syed Shahabuddin (Janata Dal) in 1991, for instance.

Kishanganj has some of the worst development statistics in Bihar. The women illiteracy rate is as high as 84 percent while 60 percent of the population is below poverty line.

Interestingly, all three candidates are playing the development card to woo the voters.

Taslimuddin, a union minister, reminds people of several development projects initiated by him and JD-U’s Ashraf focusses on schemes initiated by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s government.

Congress’ Haque hardly misses an opportunity to give credit to Manmohan Singh government for all development works.

Like many constituencies in Bihar, the main issues here are large scale poverty, malnutrition, unemployment and illiteracy.

“The poor socio-economic conditions have forced large scale migration from Kishanganj,” said Saleem Alam, a resident. Kishanganj goes to polls in the third phase April 30.

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